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Dear Reader,

Learning to Fly

The timespan from the first successful heavier-than-air flight to the moon landing consumed a mere 66 years, not even a human lifetime by today’s standards. In a similar manner, there are many practicing physicians today who completed their medical education and training with nothing more than a calculator that could barely add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

In many ways, the digital transformation of the world has been as dramatic as going from earth-bound to moon walking. Sadly, medicine has been slow out of the gate relative to other sectors of the economy to not only embrace digital and information technology but has also tended to implement digital processes in inefficient ways that add more work, rather than redesigning operations for less work.

Despite the slow and uneven uptake, the ever-growing landscape of digital health is beginning to suggest the potential for a quantum leap both in our understanding as well as our approach to what will become 21st century medicine.

At the same, advances in technology and methodologies such as wearables and whole-genome sequencing, are creating data tsunamis that are threatening to overwhelm the scientific and medical communities where most laboratory tests are still reviewed one at a time. Among the emerging opportunities with digital health, machine learning (ML) stands out as a potentially valuable adjunct for both data analysis and clinical decision support.

Last month in Rochester, NY (best known for prehistoric barbeque), CLIC sponsored an ‘Un-Meeting’ on ML. Over half of the CTSAs participated as well as a substantial cadre of medical researchers and diverse IT and bioinformatics interests. There was much discussion on potential applications and medical areas for future activities. There were also several high-level issues that were raised that will need some focused attention. For example, while ML software embedded within a device will be regulated with the device and therefore subject to FDA review and oversight, standalone ML software such as clinical decision support, raises several issues beyond initial validation such as ownership and liability to settle.

Analogous to Good Clinical Practice (GCP) or Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), the translation of discoveries using ML technologies would benefit from the development of a set of standard practices, “Good Algorithmic Practices (GAP)” whereby algorithmic development, validation and optimization need to be recognized and become part of the translational ML culture. Also, with an expectation of learning health systems, standard governing processes for the development, curation, optimization and rapid dissemination of ML algorithms across the healthcare spectrum are needed. In parallel, medicine will need processes that can react faster than our current slow and deliberate approach to evolving medical practice guidelines.

The potential for ML to greatly accelerate 21st century medicine is unbounded at present. We need to focus on taking advantage of the opportunities before us.

Deep thought of the day:

Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and the rent is due every day.

-          J J Watt

Dr. K 
Michael G. Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D. 
Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation, NCATS


CLIC Un-Meeting: Applications For Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence In Translational Science

CLIC Un-Meeting: Applications For Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence In Translational Science

On Saturday, June 1, 95 researchers, academic faculty, informaticians and clinicians from across the country gathered at the University of Rochester Medical Center to discuss applications for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in translational science. Attendees from 45 CTSA Program hubs in 27 states and D.C. convened to discuss the potential applications of AI and ML for translational science and forge new partnerships with the goal of leveraging technological innovations in research. 

“There’s been this explosion of applying AI, machine learning, deep learning and algorithmic classification to problems in health and medicine. But there are a number of issues and questions that people have in this area that the clinical and translational science community can bring expertise to,” said Martin Zand M.D., Ph.D., CLIC co-director. “The opportunity to help create an agenda with all of your other conference participants and then to participate in the sessions that you want to fosters engagement that lasts far beyond the meeting itself.”


Who is a Translational Scientist? 

Who is a Translational Scientist? 

In the June NCTAS Newsletter, NCATS Director, Christopher P. Austin, M.D., provided an update regarding efforts to “conceptualize the characteristics that define a translational scientist” and the “need to implement education and training programs” to develop this new cadre of translational scientists with NCATS taking a team-science and experimental approach.  Two important highlights from Dr. Austin’s Director’s Message were:

We hope these initiatives provide our community of established Translational Scientists and newcomers with some basic, easy-to-share information about the work we all do and help get more people involved in this exciting field.

Notice of Change to NOT-TR-19-014

Plant growing out of pile of coins

The purpose of this Notice is to revise NCATS Notice NOT-TR-19-014: Notice of Change to PAR-18-940 Clinical and Translational Science Award (U54 Clinical Trial Optional).  Revised text has been included in the PHS 398 Training Subaward Budget Attachment (Training Core), as well as, Other Direct Costs: Trainee Travel sections of the FOA. For detailed information please follow NOT-TR-19-014 or contact Dr. Erica Rosemond at

2019 Fall CTSA Program Meeting Networking & Poster Session

2019 Fall CTSA Program Meeting Networking & Poster Session

This year’s Fall CTSA Program Meeting will kick off with a Networking & Poster Session on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 6-8 p.m. The posters will remain available for viewing throughout the Fall CTSA Program Meeting on Friday, Sept. 27. Please submit your posters using this form on the CLIC website. 


  • Theme: CTSA Program Optional Cores

  • Location: Hyatt Regency Crystal City

  • One poster per CTSA Program hub or coordinating center (max size 44"h x 90"w)

  • Describe up to two optional cores, highlighting vision/successes

  • Electronic versions of the abstract and poster will be available for viewing

  • If a hub has two optional cores it is encouraged that both are presented in a single poster

Online Submission Deadline: August 23, 2019

Login and submit your poster here: 

HEAL Initiative Information and Funding Opportunities

HEAL Initiative Information and Funding Opportunities

The HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM) Initiative is a trans-NIH effort focused on improving prevention and treatment for opioid misuse and addiction, and enhancing pain management. HEAL has developed a webpage with information about funding opportunities, news, events, resources and other information related to this effort.


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